Although two major political coalitions led by Nepali Congress and CPN-UML are fiercely contesting the local level elections slated for May 13, altogether 144000 candidates are vying for 35221 posts all over the country.
Political leaders of major political parties are in the nationwide tour to address the voters and convince them that they will change the livelihood and infrastructure in the local levels through their local elected leaders. Led by Rajendra Lingden, Rastriya Prajatantra Party, is also competing with other parties.
Although the local elections will be held all over Nepal, all are showing interest in the elections of Kathmandu Metropolitan City where Sirjana Singh of Nepali Congress, Keshab Sthapit of CPN-UML and RPP leader Madan Das Shrestha are seen as major contenders. Among the independent candidates, Balen Shah is in the leading position.
The final competition for the mayoral position of KMC will be between NC candidate Singh and CPN-UML candidate Keshab Sthapit. Confining her to household affairs, with only part-time involvement in politics for a while, Singh’s asset is her own individual identity.
Although Sirjana Singh is a daughter-in-law of late NC supremo Ganeshman Singh and Mangala Devi and spouse of Nepali Congress leader Prakash Man Singh, her main asset is humbleness and other elegant soft approach.
Sthapit In Me Too Controversy
CPN-UML’s candidate Keshab Sthapit is also a man of actions having proven work records to change the unorganized Kathmandu city. In his first tenure as mayor, Sthapit had taken several steps to change Kathmandu.
However, he has recently landed in controversy over his statements against women. It looks that women will create a hurdle in his second attempt to win the election as mayor. Split of CPN-UML will also affect Sthapit. Although the number of UML rebels will be smaller, they can turn the results against him.
In the door to door campaign, NC candidate Sirjana Singh is wooing the voters through her seven point commitments, which include small but important doable works related to governance, day to day work, sanitation and drinking water, social welfare and urban infrastructure.
As his nature, UML’s candidate Staphit, who has landed in #MeToo controversy, is boasting many dream projects and populist agenda to transform the urban settlement of Kathmandu. Other disadvantages for Staphit are that he has to take blame for wrongdoing of his party colleague Bidhya Sundar Shakya.
To his further disadvantage, EC has asked Kathmandu metropolitan city Mayor candidate Keshab Sthapit for a 24-hour clarification.
The EC has argued that Sthapit's expression at a program at a Dhumbarahi-based National College was against the election code of conduct.
Sthapit was found to have retorted to a lady who asked him about the 'Me Too' and the blame against him saying, "You are (a) nice lady, but your mouth is ugly." "Shall I get it published that this sister is involved in prostitution?"
Sirjana In Pace
Along with the backing of two major communist parties, Sirjana Singh is the only one woman mayoral candidate of a Metropolitan City out of seven.
Although NC used to lose the elections because of factionalism, NC looks united this time behind Sirjana. NC leaders Bhimsen Das Pradhan and Tirthaman Dangol’s silence over her candidacy can harm her. If they just maintain neutrality, Singh will have good chances to defeat UML candidate Sthapit.
Unlike in the last elections, there seems to be less enthusiasm among the voters. Political parties are making efforts to woo the voters showing their programs and policies.
The Election Commission Nepal (EC) has stated that more than 144,000 candidates are in the race for several vacant posts in 753 local levels across the country in the local election of May 13.
Although 153,220 candidates have registered their nominations at the Offices of the Returning Election Officers, 8,000 of them have withdrawn their candidacies. However, the EC is yet to publish exact data of the final candidates and those who withdrew their nominations.
There are six metropolitan cities, 11 sub-metropolitan cities, 276 municipalities and 460 rural municipalities and their 6,743 wards across the nation.
Elections are being held for the posts of mayor / deputy mayor in the metropolitan cities, sub-metropolitan cities and municipalities, chairperson /deputy chairperson in the rural municipalities, ward chairperson and four members in each ward. Shaligram Sharma Paudel, spokesperson for the EC, said that they would publish detailed data within a few days. “You will get the detailed data of candidates within a few days,” he said.
Previous data showed that 3,470 candidates had registered their nominations for the post of mayor in 276 municipalities across the country while 2, 134 had nominated their candidacy for the post of deputy-mayor.
Likewise, 3,376 candidates had registered their nominations for the post of rural municipality chiefs in 460 rural municipalities in the country whereas 2,392 candidates had claimed for the post of deputy chairpersons. Similarly, 34,803 candidates had registered their nominations for the post of ward chair, 25,924 for the post of women representatives, 23,341 for the post of Dalit women representatives and 54,312 for the post of members.
Meanwhile, the EC had informed that only 17 districts were left to transport the ballot papers. As many as 91.11 million ballot papers have been transported to 49 districts till April 30. The ballot papers have not reached eight districts in Madhes Province, Morang in Province 1, Rasuwa, Chitwan, Lalitpur, Kathmandu and Bhaktapur in Bagmati Province.
The ballot papers have reached all the districts of Karnali and Sudurpaschim provinces, all the districts except for Morang in Province No. 1 and all the places except for Pokhara Metropolis of Gandaki and five districts of Bagmati province. Ballot papers have been transported to Manang and Mustang districts by helicopter.
Printing of ballot papers for Bhaktapur district and six metropolises has begun by adding election symbols in the previous design on the basis of the final list of the candidates, the EC said.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission has issued a stern warning not to engage in spreading misleading and character-assassinating contents targeting the political parties and candidates. The EC expressed concern over the posting of misinformation, disinformation and hate speeches on social media.
The EC has urged the people not to post such misleading, character assassinating and insulting contents in social media.
A total of 68 organizations have been permitted to mobilize 20 thousand observers for the local level election slated for May 13, according to the Election Commission (EC), Nepal.
Kamal Bhattarai, assistant secretary at the foreign section of the EC, informed that the organizations seeking to observe the local poll have submitted details about the number of observers. "They have submitted the details of about 20 thousand observers to date and, as we are still receiving the details, the number of total observers may increase."
He said the exact number of observers will be confirmed after the distribution of the identity cards for them.
He said that the Nepal Observation Committee has completed all its preparation with regard to election observation for ensuring a fair, free and impartial conduction of the poll.
The Committee has appointed and mobilized 40 observers for every district in 40 districts for the long term while it will mobilize 400 observers for the short term in all 77 districts.
Ten Candidates Elected Unopposed
As other candidates are in the elections campaign, ten candidates have been elected unopposed in local-level election in Taplejung. They have been elected unopposed after candidacy against them was not filed and some candidacies filed against some posts were withdrawn.
Ballot Paper Are Reaching Districts
The ballot papers for the local level election slated for May 13 have been dispatched to many districts. All the ballot papers will reach the districts by May 9.
Kamal Gyawali, assistant secretary at the Election Commission (EC), Nepal, said that the ballot papers for the remaining 17 districts will be distributed soon.